John Hand is a welder and builder for the legendary Wasp Motorcycles, who have been building off-road sidecars and vintage scrambler frames for more than 50 years. In fact, John himself is the grandson of founder Rob Rhind-Tutt, who began his career as a defense engineer and off-road racer before founding Wasp in 1964.
Wasp manufactures sidecar motocross and grasstrack motorcycles, motorcycle leading link suspension for sidecars, fork conversion kits for road bikes, and they build Métisse frames pioneered by Rickman Motorcycles.
John, who has been working for the company for seven years, has built a number of BSA scrambler frame. However, he decided he wanted to do a more modern take on the classic scrambler, but with hints of the classic look. The result is this stunning Yamaha XSR700 “Super Scrambler,” built on a bespoke frame that John himself designed, cut, bent, and welded from aircraft-grade chromoly and T45 steel. This gave him total control over the bike’s geometry, while helping him to save 44+ pounds over the stock machine.
Below, we get the full story on this incredible build from a very talented young man.
Yamaha XSR700 Tracker: In the Builder’s Words
(Words by John Hand. Highlights by us.)
I work for my grandfather’s company, Wasp Motorcycles, building 1960s scrambler frames, mainly mk3 Rickman Metise. Over the past 7 years of me working here since leaving school, I have made a number of classic BSA scrambler frames. As a complete bike they look pretty smart, but too old looking for me, so I decided I had to build something along the lines, but make it more modern but with the hint of classic. So here’s what I came up with.
I started with a nearly brand new XSR700 bike, mainly just for the engine. I could then take measurements to then transfer to a full size drawing of what style of frame/swing arm and geometry I wanted. I could then start cutting tube, bending and a bit more cutting and some bronze brazing, I had my frame and swing arm. The bespoke tubular frame and swing arm I made using aircraft quality seamless 4130 chromoly. And t45. So nice, and light weight too.
As you can see, I kept the wheelbase nice and short, not too steep steering head angle for stability (63.5 degrees ).
I used White Power USD forks from a KTM Duke, oversize front disc with Brembo caliper, Nisin master cylinder. Rear brake I used Nisin caliper from the original XSR, with Brembo master.
Wheels are Talon hubs/ SM Pro rims, these were made for a Kawasaki KX500 so I had to make wheel spacer/spindles and top hats to suit. Rear suspension, it had to be twin shock, to keep in line with the classic look, so it has a pair of YSS piggybacks. Shocks supplied by Kamar Motorsport. The seat was taken from the XSR, saved me having one made, as I quite liked it anyway. Really suits the bike.
The aluminium petrol tank was handmade by Lamb Engineering, with built-in fuel pump. Custom stainless steel exhaust was made by John at Wasp, along with the aluminium front number board.
The fibreglass side panels are BSA scrambler, which we have made for our replica frames anyway.
Oh, I nearly forgot, I made a shallow aluminium sump for the engine, as the standard one stuck out quite a way, I didn’t want anything hanging below the frame. And wanted to keep the ground clearance high. All assembly and wiring was done by myself at Wasp Motorcycles.
Once the bike was built and running, I didn’t know exactly how it was going to ride. But I was mega happy with it — it’s an absolute animal. Loves the back wheel 😉 Corners beautiful, pulls really hard, and I managed to shave over 10kg off of the frame and swing arm weight alone, overall I’ve saved over 20kg, so is a hell of a difference. Makes for an awesome bit of kit ?✊️?
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